An increasing number of people are living past the age of 100 years, but little is known about what differentiates centenarians from the rest of the population. In this study, brains from female subjects in 3 different age groups, 65-75 years (n = 8), 76-85 years (n = 8), and 94-105 years (n = 7), were examined to estimate the total number of neocortical neurons, astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, and microglia. There was no statistically significant difference in the mean number of neocortical neurons between the 3 groups: 17.9 × 10(9) (CV = SD/mean = 0.15) in the youngest group, 18.1 × 10(9) (CV = 0.22) in the second group, and 16.32 × 10(9) (CV = 0.24) in the oldest group. However, there was a significant difference in the total number of neocortical glial cells between the youngest (41.0 × 10(9)) and oldest (29.0 × 10(9)) age groups (p = 0.013). The significance was probably driven by a significant difference in the total number of neocortical oligodendrocytes that differed significantly between the youngest (27.5 × 10(9)) and oldest (18.1. × 10(9), p = 0.006) age groups. In conclusion, very old individuals have brain neuron numbers comparable with younger individuals, which may be encouraging for those who live into the "fourth age" and may contribute to the longevity of this exceptional group of people.
Neurobiology of Aging, 2013, Vol 34, Issue 1, p. 91-9
Age Factors; Aged; Aged, 80 and over; Aging; Cell Count; Female; Humans; Neocortex; Neuroglia; Neurons; Stereotaxic Techniques; Journal Article